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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

State of the Region Report to be Delivered in Sessions Oct. 4 and 7

By Brendan O'Hallarn

The 17th annual State of the Region report, presented by Old Dominion University's Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, will be unveiled at two breakfast presentations early next month, on Tuesday, Oct. 4 in Norfolk and Friday, Oct. 7 in Hampton.

Created by James V. Koch, the Board of Visitors professor of economics and president emeritus, the State of the Region report is widely respected as an impartial analysis of issues facing the region, stimulating thought and discussion that will make Hampton Roads a better place to live.

For the past several years, the focus has largely been on the painfully slow recovery from the 2007-08 economic slowdown. "Our regional economy continues to grow, but at an agonizingly slow pace. It is like we are watching a movie we've seen before," Koch said.

For the presentations, which will be Oct. 4 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott and Oct. 7 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, Koch will be joined by Robert McNab, professor of economics and associate director of the Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, and Tim Komarek, assistant professor of economics at Old Dominion. To register, go to: http://www.leadhamptonroads.org/Events/state-of-the-region.

McNab recently came to Old Dominion after 16 years with the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. "Bob brings a much needed and unique perspective to Old Dominion, as his research and experience position him squarely in the intersection of global, defense and government economics," said Jeff Tanner, dean of Old Dominion's Strome College of Business.

In addition to the State of the Region Report, the College's Center for Economic Analysis and Policy produces a State of the Commonwealth Report, which will be released later this fall, and the annual regional economic forecast, presented in late January.

The 2016 State of the Region report has seven parts:

Life in the Slower Lane: The Hampton Roads Economy: Our regional economy is on track in 2016 to record a "real" (after inflation) economic growth rate of 1.38 percent - well below the 2.60 percent average economic growth rate over the past 30 years. The area has yet to recover all of the jobs it lost in the Great Recession. The outlook for 2017 is not much better.

The Hotel Industry: The United States, Virginia and Hampton Roads: Since 2000, hotel revenue as a percentage of personal income has dropped in Virginia and Hampton Roads. Declining federal spending is the primary reason.

Traffic Congestion in Hampton Roads: Myths and Realities: Sixty-five percent of job holders in Hampton Roads cross a city or county boundary when they go to work. Many encounter traffic congestion, but the level of the congestion has increased only modestly in recent years. Major road improvements seldom change this situation, because traffic patterns soon redistribute in response to the improvements.

Will Robots Take Your Job? A Look at Virginia's Opportunities and Vulnerabilities: A recent study suggested that 47 percent of all jobs in the United States are at risk of being eliminated by automation. The jobs most vulnerable are those that involve repetitive tasks and relatively little judgment. Such job holders can be replaced by robots or machines utilizing artificial intelligence.

Prisons and Prisoners: The Virginia Way and Alternatives: Virginia incarcerates large numbers of individuals; this is expensive. Economic analysis suggests that the commonwealth would save money if if did not imprison so many individuals, redefined what constitutes a felony and gave more attention to preparing prisoners for reentry into society.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Community in Hampton Roads: A 2012-2014 Gallup Poll reported that 4.4 percent of the population of Hampton Roads is LGBTQ in orientation. Data suggest that LGBTQ women fare relatively better, economically speaking, than LGBTQ men. Norfolk and Virginia Beach are viewed as the friendliest cities for members of the LGBTQ community.

The Rise of Single Households: Why It Matters: Almost one-third of all households in Hampton Roads are "non-family," meaning they are not headed by two married individuals. More than 40 percent of all births now occur out of wedlock, and the number of more elderly single people has skyrocketed. Public and private programs and policies have not kept pace with these developments and are in need of revision.

The 2016 State of the Region Presentations will be Tuesday, Oct. 4 in Norfolk, Wednesday and Friday, Oct. 7 in Hampton.

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